11:35am PT by Rick Porter
Lori Loughlin-Free 'When Calls the Heart' Returning to Hallmark, Renewed for Season 7
Hallmark Channel has set a return date for When Calls the Heart, minus former star Lori Loughlin.
The series has been on hiatus since Loughlin and her husband, designer Mossimo Giannulli, were indicted in the college-admissions bribery scandal. The show will return May 5, with an additional episode airing May 6, star Erin Krakow said in a video message that aired on the cabler Wednesday.
"We can't wait to welcome you back to Hope Valley and share more all-new stories with you," Krakow said in the video.
Hallmark pulled When Calls the Heart and cut ties with Loughlin — who also starred in the network's Garage Sale Mysteries movies — in mid-March after news of the scandal broke. Loughlin and Giannulli were initially charged with paying $500,000 through a college prep business run by William "Rick" Singer to ensure their two daughters' admission to the University of Southern California as recruits to the school's crew team — even though they didn't participate.
The couple, along with more than a dozen other parents, were also charged with money laundering in a new indictment handed down Tuesday.
At the time Hallmark pulled When Calls the Heart, the show's producers said they were "evaluating all creative options" with regard to Loughlin's character, Abigail Stanton. Season six finished filming in October, so workarounds would likely have to involve either editing the actress out or reshooting some scenes.
On Saturday, Hallmark released a second message with Krakow telling viewers When Calls the Heart has been renewed for Season 7. It's set to air in 2020.
When Calls the Heart is a strong draw for Hallmark, averaging better than 2 million viewers per episode.
April 15, 1:55 p.m. Updated with season seven renewal.